ILLINOIS - Unusually High Number of Recent Problems with Water Lines Prompts Look : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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March 31, 2000

Title: Harper's pipe problems to get comprehensive look

BY JAMIE SOTONOFF Daily Herald Staff Writer

A growing number of cracked water lines and leaking underground pipes is prompting Harper College to develop a long-range plan for its infrastructure.

The pipelines beneath the Palatine campus, many of which are nearly 40 years old, have experienced an unusually high number of problems recently.

The culprit, Physical Plant Director Robert Getz said, is not just old pipes. But it's the old pipes' inability to handle normal ground shifts, which Harper experiences because it's built on the Salt Creek flood plain.

The result has been higher levels of maintenance, unpredictable problems and expensive repairs that have created a few inconveniences for Harper students and faculty.

Last week, for example, the college found a leak in the swimming pool, prompting the cancellation of all water classes. This past winter, a gas line broke along the Math, Science Health Careers Center and three separate water lines snapped, causing a few campus buildings to be without water for up to 24 hours.

Harper's board of trustees last week authorized $155,050 for emergency repairs after a routine maintenance check revealed a leaking hot water line near the Instructional Delivery Center. The college expects to be reimbursed for those repairs from the state's life safety fund.

"We haven't had a disaster. We're blessed with a very good crew here and our folks react very quickly when there's a problem," Getz said. "But you don't want to wait for a maintenance problem to occur. You want to take preventative measures first."

To make the repairs more predictable, logical and affordable, Harper officials have begun putting together a "utility atlas."

The atlas is a long-range plan that will identify the underground infrastructure, assess its condition, and determine when it might need to be replaced.

"Instead of just checking in at points where we think we have a problem, we're going to check the whole campus," Getz said. "It'll cost less money and it'll be done more logically. Right now, what we're doing is just replacing things as they're needed."

The utility atlas will not only help the college plan and prioritize its projects, but Getz said it will also prevent crews from digging up areas to make repairs and then digging them up again a few months later for more work.

"You can work smarter and not harder this way," he said.

The utility atlas will be part of Harper's new master plan and will look 10 to 15 years into the future.


-- (, March 31, 2000

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